Editor's Note: Guest blogger Denise Brogan-Kator is the Senior Legislative Counsel for the Family Equality Council, where she works to advance equality for all families at the state level. Denise is the proud parent of three daughters and is excited to soon welcome her first grandbaby into the world.
I am not a stereotypical parent. This is not to say that I never nagged my children to do their homework and brush their teeth, or that I wouldn't give anything to protect them from the evils of the world--I did and I would. It's also not to say that I don't miss them terribly now that they are grown with lives of their own--I do. Or that I'm not super excited about my first grandbaby, due later this year--I am.
No, where I fall out of the stereotype is in my own personal expression of gender. You see, I am a transgender woman. Despite being assigned male at birth, I live my life, legally and socially, as a woman. For the past two decades, since my children were 7, 9, and 11 years old, they have known me as a woman.
Over the years I have collected some interesting stories, stories that are fun and funny, and some that are sad or even tragic. But each year, as Mother's Day and Father's Day approach, I channel my own mother's need for acknowledgement from our offspring and approach the mailbox each day with some excitement, and some dread. Will I get a card? How will they handle the gendered nature of such cards? Mother's Day cards reflect my gender identity properly and many young people have more than one mom, so that would seem to be apropos.
However, my children were young enough when I first began to transition that I believed it was important for them to know that I was not trying to replace their mother and that I would always be their father. For that reason, and based upon their own choice, they have always called me "Dad" or "Daddy." So, it seems that a Father's Day card might be appropriate also. But I am not a man and these cards universally invoke a masculine image.
My youngest daughter solved this dilemma one year by buying me a Father's Day card that not only acknowledged my parentage, but also my ineptitude with home repair tools. In the card, she chided me that I, too, could have my own home repair show, as long as it was on the comedy channel. Where the card referred to "he," she took her pen and inked in an "s."
Parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are, first and foremost, parents. Although the greeting card industry has yet to fully embrace our existence, we take a great deal of comfort in the fact that our children embrace us.
In my final analysis, I am proud to be my children's parent. I am proud of them and their successes. Professionally, my three daughters grew up to be an engineer, a scientist, and a doctor of family relations. They are each happy. What more could a parent want? In that, I suppose I do fit the stereotype.
This post is part of the Strong Families Mama's Day Our Way celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blog. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.